London Zoo hopes to help conquer arachnophobia

STORY: Could you learn to love a huge hairy spider?

London Zoo hopes to help those who suffer from arachnophobia

[Dave Clarke, London Zoo spider keeper]

“So, a lot of people are a little bit scared of spiders, but when it becomes a phobia, it's far more significant. And these are people whose lives are ruled by spiders, who can't go abroad because of fear of spiders being there, who can't sometimes go into parts of their own house or have to keep their windows closed during the summer. We've also had people who've bought a house, seen a spider there, and then can't go back and actually sell the house again. People who've even dropped their baby because they have a sudden reaction of seeing a spider."

The 'Friendly Spider Program' has run for three decades

Participants undergo a short hypnotherapy session to try and address their fears

[Aylana Brewster, participant]

“Yeah, a lot. I kind of always worrying about ‘will that be a spider in the car? Will it drop on me? Will I crash the car?’ Kind of seeing spiders, hyperventilating, having nosebleeds, having to go into A&E because of that. So quite severe reactions. And I guess that being a trainee clinical psychologist, my clients day-to-day come in with anxiety and phobias. So, I kind of need to sort my own phobia out before being able to help them. So, I thought was really important for me to get help.”

After the therapy, you can put it to the test with hands-on experience

[Casey Thompson, participant]

I would never put my hand near a spider in a million years. I literally… spiders are the bane of my life. I am truly psychotic when I see a spider, I'm not joking with you. I literally lose the plot. Ridiculously lose the plot. Like I said, I can't sleep. Like I can't be in the same room as a spider. I'm now in a room with 60 huge spiders, but I'm fine. I don't understand it but I am."

The zoo claims the program has a 90 percent success rate